Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Cardboard Dog Halloween Movie List Part 3: Monster Movies

Monsters! Whether its the creepy-crawly variety or the mutated mess or the evil from beyond, monster movies can be awesome. They remind us of how good we have it in our own non-terrifying realities of phone bills and social media and, that in all likelihood, we won't have to come home to fend off our mutated pets or have to endure the horror of banishing a pin-headed demon back to hell. From corporate aliens to unimaginable inter-dimensional monsters, here's a top 5. 

Top 5 Monster Movies

They Live (1988)
Let's kick off this countdown with a movie from one of the legends of horror, John Carpenter. And now let's undermine it by saying that it stars Randy Roddy Piper. The concept of the movie is familiar, that there's an untouchable malevolent power that keeps us subordinate, that makes the poor, poorer and the rich, richer. In this case it's aliens – hidden among us and likely driving a Mercedes. The aliens are the affluent and elite; they're investment bankers, they're in positions of power and influence and they're bleeding the planet dry. Their true form can be only be seen by wearing a special pair of shades (which means Roddy can look cool as he kicks their asses). It's a story that's become even more relevant these days as the bankers have made things harder for all of us and we're practically drowning in marketing and consumerism every day. Because of this, the movie is popular with those who subscribe to the Illuminati conspiracy theory. But don't let that put you off...

Cabin in the Woods (2012)
If you haven't seen this film – beware, there are spoilers ahead, so you must make this the next horror movie you see! The buzz around this movie as it was released was that it was much more than the usual horror film. The choice of film title, demonstrates that the “cabin in the woods” is almost a sub-genre itself, and an acknowledgement from the film-makers that the audience will have many pre-conceptions of what they think they're going to see. From the opening sequence, you know its going to be different and as you watch it, you realise that there's a lot going on which will keep you guessing (a rare element these days). Why am I recommending it as a monster movie? The last quarter of the film just explodes with monsters. Any kind you can think of. A Halloween treat, see it again or see it for the first time.

The Fly (1987)
If you need a goofy but sexy leading man to play a brilliant genius in your next Sci-Fi film, there's only one guy to call – Jeff Goldblum. Independence Day, Jurassic Park and The Fly are his most successful films and in each one, he plays a charismatic brainiac. It's The Fly that's the darkest and most horrific. It's an update of the 1958 monster movie and tells the same story; scientist accidentally mixes his genes with that of a housefly and starts to merge with the insect. No better director for the update, David Cronenberg's fascination with body horror makes this film an exercise in the grotesque. When it first came out, there were reports of grown men throwing up while watching The Fly in cinemas. Maybe this was just some nifty marketing but if you have to vomit over one film, make it this one...

The Thing (1982)
Another remake of a 50's monster picture, and another from John Carpetner. Like Cronenberg's The Fly, The Thing deals with an alien which assimilates any living form by replicating it at a genetic level, destroying the host as it does so (Cronenberg would no doubt have found The Thing an interesting project). This is a licence for the film-makers to let their imaginations run wild with some insane effects and gore and with Rob Bottin and Stan Winston on board, rest assured you see some crazy shit. The action is set at a remote Antarctic outpost and amongst the gore there's a decent “whodunnit” at play as the alien conceals itself within one (or more) of the crew and the paranoia builds.

The Mist (2007)
Not The Asylum's long awaited version of The Fog, this is in fact a severely under-rated horror film, based on a Stephen King story and directed by one Frank Darabont. The Mist is the story of an apparent inter-dimensional rip which allows Lovecraftian type monsters to spew through into our world. The unfolding nightmare is told from the perspective of a handful of shoppers holed up in a convenience store in Small Town America (once again). Thomas Jane is just awesome as the man doing all he can to protect his son and decide whether to stay in the crumbling safety of store or to try to find somewhere beyond the mist itself. For gore fans, there's not loads to tweet home about but the monster design is excellent and the ending is one of the most powerful there's been.

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